Thursday, August 26, 2010

KL Int'l airport, 6:30am

should've smuggled more booze into Malaysia. Only brought a decent bottle of port since the limit is 1L of anything. But customs didn't even pretend to check, they just sit at empty, roped-off check stations. I totally could've brought in 6 or 8 bottles. As it is, a lovely cabin attendant gave me flasks of cointreau, rum & cognac because we chatted during the flight. Oh, and she gave me a bottle of white wine after I told her I couldn't sleep during flights.

In other airport news, I can tolerate the French -- they're like Americans who can't speak English. But I can't abide by CDG airport security making me throw out an empty water bottle. That is only second to the lunacy of KL and Singapore, who do the security check at the gate, so you can't fill up your water bottle before boarding (and you can't put liquor in storage outside customs, hence my hesitancy to buy lots of wine only to have it confiscated at KL customs).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

eVolo, an architecture and design journal, had it's 2010 skyscraper competition recently. I'm rather disturbed by the winners, they created a prison in the sky (really, guys? Is this what we've come to?)

Besides that, we get some more interesting entries, such as a skyscraper that purifies polluted rivers, or underwater 'skyscrapers'.

I'd recommend Inhabit's other articles, they have more underwater buildings, among other interesting, fantastical designs.

Friday, March 05, 2010

New National Insurance rules

A year ago, the Japanese government published revised rules for work visa renewal. The most prominent change was the requirement that people show proof of national insurance when they renew. The problem is, most foreigners aren't on national insurance. Despite there being a law requiring EVERYONE to enroll, most eikaiwa (English conversation schools) did not -- and still do not -- enroll their employees. Instead, they changed the work hours to 29.5 hrs/week (by changing what counted as 'work' and what counted as unpaid 'preparation time', like walking to the classroom) to skirt these laws. Now, despite the fact that the companies who brought people in neglected to inform them of their responsibilities, workers would be punished by having to enroll in national insurance AND pay back dues on all the time they were in Japan. So, for myself, I've been in Japan 6 years and could potentially owe more than $10,000 in back insurance payments that I will have to pay if I want to continue working, despite being covered under private insurance that I was told was sufficient (my first employer, NOVA, had me enrolled in their company plan, JMA. After I changed jobs to Interac, I was covered under Interglobal, where I remain to this day). Now, I wouldn't be opposed to enrolling in Japan's national plan. what I object to is being told that I must back pay thousands of dollars because I was misinformed.

Well, since my visa expires April 8th, and the new guidelines take effect April 1st, I've been paralyzed by the fear of having to enroll. Not to mention, little to nothing was said on this topic after the initial announcement. Now, it seems, proof of enrollment will not be grounds for visa denial. At least, that's what the Japan Times says. But then again, somebody in the immigration office has it out for me (I've had 2 consecutive 1 year visas, despite having had a 3 yr one before and everyone else getting 3 yrs), so I'm sure I'll be the one who gets denied and deported.

The Legality of ALTs

Here's an interesting read on the legality of ALTs in Japan being employed by dispatch companies. It seems most things about ALTs are illegal. We'll see if things change with the new insurance rules for visa renewal (NOTE: see my next post for more on that).

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hire Bernie Madoff

After reading this interview, perhaps Madoff should be used like Frank Abagnale, Jr. and he can go to work for the SEC, since they evidently don't know what the hell they were doing. Remember, Madoff only got caught because his sons turned him in after he confessed to them.

Secondary lesson: don't teach your children to be honest if you're going to break the law.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The perfect egg

Here's a great analysis on the perfect soft- and hard-boiled egg. I just tried it out and the egg was perfect. I've still got a small peeling problem, but that's not such a big deal. The article is also a great bit of food science writing.

Next, on to julienne-en-en-ing!